Against all the odds

Library
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First of all, we are lucky in that Sheffield has kept open community libraries through the volunteer led model. This was a better option than closure. Once a library is closed it is gone.

The council is also right to highlight the evil and unnecessary cuts in central government funding it has suffered.

As a library user, I have witnessed the library service suffer years of cuts in hours and staffing, years before the move to the current volunteer led model, which I am far from convinced is the best we can hope for.

The council is already not classifying community volunteer - run libraries as part of its statutory library service.

Library staff in communities were one of the most valued by local communities evidenced by half of users not visiting libraries once the staff left.

The latest alternative budgets from the Green Party and Lib Dems identified savings to be used elsewhere.

It is clear that there are savings which could be used to fund a phased reintroduction of library staff at community libraries, which is something which would be of huge benefit to the communities they serve.

The volunteers have done a heroic job in keeping community libraries open against all the odds. It is now time for the council to ensure their efforts have not been in vain and show a serious effort to find savings to reemploy library staff.

We need a Library Taskforce including library users, staff and councillors of all parties to find ways forward for this vital social service.

Matthew Smith

Endcliffe Vale Road, S10